Safety opportunity from calamity

Australia is starting to settle into a state of stability as the various restrictions on life and work become more consistent. This has also allowed for some to start thinking about the recovery phase – the “bridge”, the awakening, whatever one wants to call it – to reconsider what we think of work and workplaces and our expectations are for the future. Do we resurrect the BC (Before COVID19) employment and economic models or work differently? There is an opportunity to steer work and business into a more sustainable direction that reduces physical and psychosocial harm and regains productivity and profitability. The structures, models and criteria already exist.

And, perhaps, we should incorporate the values recommended by actor, Matthew McConaughey.

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Young workers don’t know their OHS rights or their employer’s duty of care – Duh!

On March 10 2020, the Andrews Labor Government and the Minister for Workplace Safety, Jill Hennessy, released a media statement about a “social experiment” involving the safety of young workers, in response to the fact that “about 50 young workers are injured every week”.

The statement said that the campaign is

“… warning employers to protect young workers and making sure young Victorians are aware of their rights through a powerful new campaign …..
[and]
“…is part of a social experiment which saw young workers aged 18-25 asked to participate in a mock job information session for a research company.”

The significant finding was that

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Is Industrial Manslaughter an empty vessel?

The Australian Institute of Health and Safety (AIHS) has published a long article about Australia’s Industrial Manslaughter (IM) laws. It is a very good article but includes a lot of information that should already be familiar to those who have followed the development of IM laws over the last two decades.

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OHS data still in short supply

The Peter Sandman quote concerning delivery people and infections that appeared in an earlier SafetyAtWorkBlog article highlighted an issue from 2005 that was taken up in Senator Tony Sheldon‘s questioning of the head of Safe Work Australia, Michelle Baxter, in Senate Estimates on March 4 2020. Sheldon has challenged SWA in earlier committee meetings but his confidence is increasing as he covered more issues than delivery workers and coronavirus.

Michelle Baxter was also questioned on the provision of OHS guidance in languages other than English, silicosis data and the banning of engineered stone.

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Sexual harassment changes are percolating slowly

Discussion on the report into sexual harassment in Australian workplaces went missing last weekend which included International Women’s Day. March 8 generalised much of the discussion on the need for new approaches to feminism, wages and gender equity. This is not to say that organisations had forgotten about the National Inquiry’s Final Report or the occupational health and safety (OHS) context, but few were as blunt about the issue as broadcaster Virginia Trioli and workplace lawyer Liberty Sanger on ABC radio this week.

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